Excerpt

Excerpt

Cameron paced the length of the meeting room while checking his wristwatch.  It was just after midnight.  He’d left Rhiannon only two hours ago, but it seemed as if days had passed.  He was restless.  Feeling as if he wanted to jump out of his skin, he wanted to run and hunt, to fight or have crazy wild sex with the redhead.  Cameron snorted as he fell into his seat and pushed a hand through his hair.  What was it about this woman that had him thinking about her so much?  It couldn’t be the fact she was human, he’d had a fair share of human women while in university, yet none had ever made him wonder about them after he’d had sex with them. 

It had to be the fact she had mentioned the marking.  His curiosity had been well piqued and the sooner he had answers on how she could possibly know about it the sooner he could get her out of his mind.

A sturdy knock on the door drew the thoughts of the woman away.  By now, she should be on her way to the castle.  He wondered – briefly – what she would think of it all.  Another knock and he groaned.  He needed to put her out of his mind.

“Come in.”

The door creaked open and Ian poked his head into the room.  Seeing Cam was alone he entered.  He was the grandson of Cameron’s best friend from his university days and had been entrusted with the secret of the Blood Moon Clan just as his grandfather and father before him.

Large and muscular, Ian fit in with the men of the Blood Moon Clan perfectly.  Standing at just over six feet tall, he had broad shoulders and long sandy blonde hair hanging past his shoulders.  He was often found within the castle training with the sentinels or studying their history.  He embodied everything a male member of the clan should be, with the sole exception of not being able to shift.

Cameron shook his offered hand and motioned to a seat.  “I’m sorry for calling on you so late.”

“It’s all right, I was working on getting the information you asked me for in the pub when Aidan delivered your message.”

“Have you been able ta find anything?”

“Not much.  I should know more in the morning.  I’ve put out feelers ta Darcy in the states about the man your girl was searching for and I’ve sent a message ta Jozo in Croatia asking for any information he might know about the Dark Moon Clan, but I doubt they’ll know more than we do.  You know as well as I the Italians have closed themselves off from the rest of us.”

Cameron drummed his fingertips against the wood of the table in a careless rhythm.  “I know which is why I find it odd they’d try ta contact us now, especially given the history of the two clans.”

“Maybe they’ve noticed strange happenings within their clan as well?”

“You mean the matings where there hadn’t been any before?”

“That and the children.  Your people are flourishing, Cam.  How about you?  Has your marking reacted ta anyone yet?”

“No.”  Cameron leaned back, his chair coming off the floor and balancing on its rear legs.

“You sound disappointed.”

“Me?  No, why should I be disappointed?  When it happens, it happens.  I have faith in the old ways.”

“Do you?”  Ian’s eyebrows shot up.

“Shut up.  Just because my father shat on all the old traditions doesn’t mean I do as well.  My mum made sure Bridget and I were well versed in the ancient traditions.”

“How is Bridget?”

“Fine.”  Cameron’s chair fell forward with a muted thump.  “Why do you ask?”

Ian looked down at the tabletop.  “No reason.  Is she enjoying married life?”

“She needs ta be kept better occupied with her husband and less with my life.  I’ll have ta talk ta Logan about it.”

“Aidan told me she didn’t take too well ta your rendezvous with the American.”

“That’s putting it lightly.”  His mouth twisted into a grimace.

“But she was worth it.”

“Oh yeah.”  Cam smiled and the two men laughed.

Another knock ten minutes later broke into the friends’ conversation.  Cameron frowned and rose from his seat behind the table.  “Enter.”  He commanded.

Aidan walked into the room and nodded a greeting at Ian.  “Sorry ta interrupt, but I thought you’d want ta know she’s here.”

“Where?”  Cameron asked as he sat again.

“In the tower, I wasn’t sure if she was a prisoner or guest and the rooms there may not be our best, but they’re not the dungeon.”

Cameron motioned him inside the room.  “Good call.  Has she said anything?”

Aidan looked up at the ceiling for several moments.  “She has a very colorful vocabulary.”

Ian snorted a laugh.  “I take it your American is now under your roof?”

“I canna take the chance the Italians sent her here as a spy.”

“For what gains?  Sure, your ancestor hated theirs, but really, it’s been several centuries.  Surely you two can work things out now?”

“I don’t think so.  The Italians were always the most obnoxious of all the clan members.”

“So said Benedict in his writings.”  Ian said with a slight grin.

Cam snorted and rolled his eyes.  Turning back to Aidan he asked, “Did she say anything about me?”

“Well,” Aidan began, “I believe it was something along the lines of when she next sees you you’ll find yourself missing a few important parts.”

“What were her exact words, Aidan?”

“She said she was going ta find a dull blade and cut your dick off.”

Ian’s eyes widened and he let out a loud snort of laughter, which triggered Aidan’s.  Cameron waited for the two men to take a breath.  “Anything else?”

“Do you want ta know what she’s going ta do with your ballocks?”  Aidan asked with a wide smile as he sat beside Ian.

“No.”  Cameron bit back the smile threatening to escape.  She was a feisty one, his Rhiannon.  His?  He shook his head free of the thought.

“Did you remember ta bring her things?”

“I packed them myself at the hotel.  It was a bitch trying ta get her ta come with us.”

“She fought you?”

“Yes, finally I had Adam just grab her as she was.  She put up a devil of a fight the whole way here.  Her towel threatened ta fall off more than once.”

Cameron arched a dark brow, “Towel?”

“Umm yes, didn’t I mention it?”  Aidan rose and slowly backed away from his alpha clearly taking a cue from the deadly look in his eyes.

“Why is she wearing just a towel?”

“She refused ta put on the clothes I gave her.”

“Explain.”  Cam spoke through clenched teeth, his hands clutching the edge of the table.

Aidan took another step back.  “When we got ta the hotel she was just coming out of the bath.”

“You just walked into the bathroom?”

“You said ta get her.  Your command was unyielding.  I merely followed your orders.”

“I dinna say ta snatch her from her bath.”

“Forgive me, Cameron, but you dinna say not ta.  I was under the impression she was ta be brought here whether she wanted ta or not.  From the tone of the meeting earlier, I understood she wasn’t ta be trusted.  Was I wrong?”

Cam released the hold he had on the table and sat back.  “No.  You’re right.  Until we know better I want her kept under close guard.”

“I have two men standing sentry outside her door.”

“Does she have her belongings?”

“No.  I thought you might want someone ta go through them first.”

“Good idea.  Ask Grant ta help you look through them, he might recognize something we might miss.  Bring anything you two deem suspicious ta Ian.”

“I’ll do my best.”  The other man added.

Cameron turned his attention to Ian, “Have you and Kyle moved into the stronghold?”

Ian nodded.  “For tonight, tomorrow he’ll be going ta Glasgow ta stay with his parents.  I think it will be safer.”

“I’m sorry ta separate you.”

Ian shrugged, “He’s been looking for a reason ta visit.  We haven’t seen them since our wedding and you don’t have ta worry he won’t say a word.”

Cameron smiled, but it wasn’t one of pleasure.  “I know.  If I didn’t trust him ta keep our secret, I would have never allowed your marriage ta take place.  He’s a good man, Ian,” he continued more civilly.  “You’ve done well in finding him.”

In any other man, the threat would have been traumatizing, but Ian knew the world he was living in well and Cameron’s threats were meant to protect the two hundred people living under his care.  Cam knew Ian would have felt the same way if he were standing in his shoes. 

The large man nodded slightly as he pushed back from the table, “Thank you.  Now, if you’ll excuse me I think I’ll be going back ta my quarters and checking in on any messages that may have come in while I was bullshitting with you two asses.”

“If you hear anything—”

“I’ll find you right away.”  He said then left the room.

Cameron faced Aidan, “Is there something more?”

“May I speak freely?”

“Seems ta me you’ve been doing it since you walked in.”

Aidan motioned to the chair and only sat after Cameron nodded.  “It’s about the female.”

“I thought it might have been.  What about her?”

“Could she be your mate?”

Cameron laughed loudly then stopped when Aidan remained silent.  “You’re serious?  Aidan, she’s human.”

“So?”

“So, we don’t pair up with humans, never have.”

“We have once.”

Cameron rolled his eyes.  “Marco’s relationship didn’t exactly end well.  This is why he ruled we are not ta be mated ta humans.  The Chosen must have agreed with him because no mark has ever responded ta a human since Bellaserra’s death.”

Aidan leaned forward on the table, his gaze intense as he watched his alpha.  “All right, so how do you explain your reaction ta her?”

“She’s a beautiful woman and I was attracted.”

“And when was the last time you were attracted ta a human woman?”

“When was the last time a human woman has come through the village?”  Cameron asked.  “It was nothing more than me being horny and she reciprocated.”

“So your marking hasn’t reacted?”

“No.”

“Not at all?”

Cameron rose from his chair and came around the table.  He leaned against it crossing his arms over his chest.  “No.  Why are you harping on this?”

“Because your reaction ta this situation is not like you, if you’re horny you seek out one of the Kiannas, we all do.  You’ve never just jumped into bed with a human.  Even in university you always insisted on some kind of relationship no matter how short lived while the rest of us screwed anything in a skirt.  You’re protecting her too.”

“I am not.”

“You were.  Calling Bridget off, not wanting ta discuss her with Grant, that’s protecting her.  If she isn’t your mate then you’ve developed a soft spot for the humans and we both know any weakness you have for anyone outside the clan is dangerous for us all.”

“You don’t have ta worry.  I know my duties as alpha and anyone who thinks they can take me is welcome ta try.”

Aidan searched his expression and satisfied with what he saw he nodded and rose from his chair.  “I have faith in you and how you lead us, Cam.  Your father almost brought us ta ruin, but you’ve managed ta lead us from the brink and now we’re thriving.  You’re a good leader.”

“Thank you.  You’re not too bad yourself.”  Cam said with a crooked grin.  “How are the guards?”

“Doing well, no movement at the perimeter we’ve set up since the attack earlier.  I have them changing out every four hours.”

“I assume you’ll be taking a turn on the parapet?”

“You know I don’t ask the men ta do more than I am willing ta myself.”

“Get some rest then.  Oh and before you go I need you ta do one thing for me.”

“Of course.”

“Go ta the tower and make sure our friend has nothing sharp in her room.”

Aidan smiled broadly, “I recall her saying she’d prefer ta do it with a dull blade, so I’ll make sure there are none of those in the room either.”

“Smartass.  Thank you again for your service.”

Aidan bowed slightly.  “As my alpha commands so I do gladly.  You try ta get some rest too, Cam.  You’re cranky when you don’t get your eight hours,” he said with a cheeky grin.  “Besides, I’m certain tomorrow Ian will have some of the answers we need.”

“I hope so, Aidan.”  Cam said as he walked over to stare out the window looking down into the courtyard below.  Several people were mulling around, some talking, others helping families move their belongings into the castle keep.  Cameron turned his attention to the night sky and the stars twinkling overhead.  He prayed silently to the Chosen for guidance.

As he turned away from the window, Cam swore he could almost hear the ethereal lilt of laughter in the room.

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